Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Morgan 8 & 9: Garrard Morgan III and Eliza Ann Hamilton Morgan, Part 2

Garrard Morgan III and Eliza Ann Hamilton were born in Kentucky and married in Kentucky or Indiana, as mentioned in Part 1 of their history. (The Life and Ministry of John Morgan notes that they were married in Kentucky.)

Their six children were born in Indiana and Illinois:
  • William (1840)
  • John (1842)
  • Luella or Sarah (1845)
  • Leonidas (1847)
  • James (1850)
  • Garrard IV (1854)
A history of Decatur County, Indiana tells that in this early period of settlement in Indiana, children were educated at subscription schools, with parents paying a fee for each child they sent to school. It was not until 1853 that the Indiana legislature established free public schools.
The usual school term in Decatur county during the early days was three months, and the school day began early in the morning and lasted until sundown. The teacher would be at his desk at sunrise and the first pupil to arrive at the school house would be the first to recite. This privilege of reciting first was much sought by those more eager for knowledge and there was usually keen competition among the star pupils, and consequent early rising. There were a few drones, however, who cared little whether school kept or not, and therefore, as if to show their contempt for learning, would come straggling in about ten o'clock, or in plenty of time for the noon recess.

Early schools were held in vacant log cabins, chinked with mud, provided with puncheon seats and oiled-paper windows. Text books were the American Primer, Dilworth's and Webster's spelling book, Guthrie's or Pike's arithmetics, the English Reader, the Bible and, sometimes, Weem's Life of Washington. This last book was a novel, but won a place in the list of text books because of the excellence of the moral carried by the cherry tree story....

Sometime near 1840 Miss Jane Bartee taught a school in the southern part of the county. She must have possessed an ear for both rhyme and rhythm, for she gave her school rules a metrical embodiment. The following classical fragment is still extant:

"No rippin', no tearin'.
No cussin', no swearin',
No clingin', no swingin', to trees."

The father of this poetical school ma'am was a justice of the peace, and, by virtue of that office, a member of the county board, which performed the duties of the present-day county commissioners. When the board met in Greensburg, Mr. Bartee would walk thither, barefooted and garbed in undyed homespun, and, thus attired, enter upon his official duties with all due dignity.
Along with a man named J.S. Grant, Garrard Morgan was one of the first teachers of the school outside of Greensburg, Decatur, Indiana.
In the early days, not much preparation was required in order to "teach school." The pedagogue looking for a school for the winter, with an opportunity to "board round" and so eke out his scanty earnings, went to the township trustees, applied for a place, and if they liked his appearance he was hired without much of an examination into his qualifications. In most cases, the trustees themselves were men with very little education and would not presume to question the ability of anyone seeking a position as teacher.
During spring, summer, and fall, Garrard would have carried on his pursuits as a farmer, on his farm about a mile south of Greensburg, but come winter, he taught the three month school term.

Somewhere along the line, Garrard's son John received enough education to write beautiful although not impeccably-spelled or -punctuated letters (at the age of 20, a letter to his father, and at the age of 21, a letter to his mother) and eventually became a noted author, teacher, lecturer, and public speaker.

When John Morgan arrived in Salt Lake City in December 1866 at age 24 with less than a year's study at Eastman Business College (not Eastman Commercial College, as previously stated) as the grand total of his advanced education, what could have induced him to start his own school? First, due to this note in the Decatur County history, we know that he had seen his father serve as a teacher, and, second, he had attended the business school that Harvey G. Eastman had established a few years before John Morgan attended the very successful school. The bar for establishing and running a school was not as high in the mid-18th century as it is now, and John Morgan had found his calling in life, and was widely influential in his role as teacher and business school administrator.

...to be continued...

Harding, Lewis A. History of Decatur County, Indiana: Its People, Industries and Institutions, with Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families. Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen, 1915, pp 182-184.

Richardson, Arthur M., and Nicholas G. Morgan. The Life and Ministry of John Morgan: For a Wise and Glorious Purpose. : N.G. Morgan, 1965.

The picture of Southern Indiana from www.flickr.com/photos/32955736@N00/2182429350/.

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